John School

I don’t like it. I think the idea is stupid and condescending. I hate the thought of some government flunky ‘educating’ my beloveds into never seeing me or my friends again. I love my clients and would never want them to see me as a passive victim caught up in ‘the patriarchy’. I don’t want them arrested, I don’t want them scared, and I certainly don’t want them ‘reeducated’ into somehow seeing themselves as broken for coming to see me and my colleagues.

That being said, I did just read an interesting article. I was prepared to be outraged, as usual, by some well meaning but misguided government agent shaming clients for seeking out providers to meet their needs. The headline ‘can we cure men who pay for sex’ is disgusting, as if the safe and professional answer to a natural human urge were a disorder. I was not prepared to agree with the heart of the article.

The article’s author observed and related one of the sex buyer reeducation programs here in King County. Apparently they’re a little different than most in that they don’t stick entirely to the fear and shame campaign most ‘classes’ offer. They talk about sexual harassment, women’s safety, emotional stability, healthy relationships, different ways of loving all the people in their lives… putting their decision to seek a sex worker in the context of their emotional health. It sounded surprisingly helpful and honest, if misplaced and condescending.

Connor Habib once said that what we need in the US isn’t more sex education, it’s intimacy education. While I don’t agree in the slightest that seeking sex workers is in itself a natural byproduct of ‘toxic masculinity’ I do agree that men could use a hand learning more about women’s experience. I wish this guy teaching this class would focus his efforts on getting his intimacy education classes out into the public instead of targeting men seeking sex workers. Partly because many men who would never see a sex worker need this education as much as those who do and partly because many men who see sex workers are already getting that education… From their provider!

To any readers who have been through ‘John School’: I hope that you found something valuable but if, as is likely, all you found was shame and anger, please know that it’s wrong. Seeing a consenting adult sex worker can be incredibly healthy and healing and it certainly doesn’t mean you aren’t a respectful, ethical, sexually realized person.